April 19th, 2024

Child porn charges resolved with peace bond


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 6, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge man caught with child pornography on his computer has resolved his charges by way of a peace bond.

Eric John Heitman. who was facing two counts of possession of Child Pornography and one count of accessing child pornography, was placed on the one-year peace bond Tuesday in Lethbridge court of justice.

A peace bond is a form of resolution in which criminal charges are withdrawn without a finding of guilt. As a result of the charges being withdrawn, the accused will not have a criminal conviction for the alleged offences, although he must obey any conditions placed on him. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.

Court was told that on June 10, 2022 Microsoft reported that an IP address traced to Lethbridge had uploaded a couple of child pornography images. Following an investigation, officers searched Heitman’s residence and seized a cell phone and desktop computer. Although there were not any images on the phone, some deleted images were found on the computer.

Crown Prosecutor Jennifer Reese said there were extensive negotiations with the defence, and she acknowledged there were some issues with the Crown’s case that ultimately resulted in a resolution through a peace bond.

That issue, Lethbridge lawyer Greg White explained, is that someone was visiting Heitman in his home when the images were being downloaded.

“We had our own forensic expert look at the digital image, and the digital image clearly showed that any accessing of (child pornography) was done at a very specific time of the evening when this other individual was at the residence,” White said. “That was part of the negotiations.”

The peace bond includes a fear-based element that implies the possibility of future offences, which the peace bond is intended to prevent.

“If certain people are doing certain things on certain devices, this will prevent that from happening again,” White said.

The peace bond places Heitman on a $2,000 no-deposit recognizance for one year, during which he must keep the peace and be of good behaviour, not access any pornography sites, and not participate in any activity that involves contact with anyone under the age of 16, including using a computer system. He cannot allow anyone else to use his electronic devices or his password-protected wifi, and he cannot go to any daycare centres or school grounds, as well as a public park or swimming area where anyone under the age of 16 may attend or be expected to attend.

The phone and computer have also been forfeited to the Crown, and once Heitman has fulfilled the conditions needed to execute the recognizance, all the charges will be withdrawn.

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